07 Oct Should There Be an Upper Age Limit on Adventure Travels?
Nepal’s tourism minister, Kripasur Sherpa, caused a furor in the news recently when he announced that in order to make Mount Everest safer for everyone, a regulation is being proposed that would ban any climbers under the age of 18 or over the age of 75, as well as anyone who is disabled and can’t ascend without assistance.
Those who oppose this new, suggested rule say it is unfair and meant to relieve congestion on the mountain more than it is to provide protection for climbers. By singling out the young, the old and the disabled, they say, Nepal is choosing to make Everest inaccessible to the people who have and exert the least amount of voice regarding mountain matters.
On the other hand, in 2012, German climber Ralf Dujmovits published a photo of a “conga line of climbers” on Everest that visually demonstrated the mountain’s overcrowding problems. That image went viral. And in 2013, Christian Elde, 37, and Trond Eilertsen, 57, both from Norway, complained that they had to spend more than two hours waiting to officially scale the mountain due to a traffic jam of people at the peak.
So if hordes are the real problem, what measures should be implemented to reduce them? When it comes to physical adventures, is age an appropriate yardstick for exclusion?
Just a few decades ago, the mention of “vacation travels” conjured up images of sitting on a beach somewhere, relaxing and getting away from it all. It meant going to the popular vacation spots everyone else went to, where stress—and a lot of movement—seemed nonexistent: places such as Acapulco, Mexico, or Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Today, however, when we plan our travels, we look for places and things to do that few have visited or attempted; we want adventures—intense experiences. Engaging in very little physical activity is frowned upon. Some say social media is causing us to want to take part in wild and crazy activities that are deemed “postable.” Others say the trend is driven by baby boomers who want to prove to themselves and others that they are still energetic. That puts a lot of pressure on older adults to take on more active tours, which in turn causes younger people to worry that having them along on their group trips will impede what the group can do.
Whatever the motivation, now that older people are signing up for adventure tours, more and more travel industry providers are instituting upper age limits and regulations. In fact, in recent years, older travelers have had to start facing issues such as:
• being turned down by operators of walking tour programs (travelers age 71 to 81);
• demands by tour companies for doctors’ notes attesting to their physical capabilities;
• being denied access to extra-legroom, exit-row airline seats because of age (travelers age 70 or over);
• being refused cars when they show up at rental desks—despite prior confirmed reservations—because of age;
• escalating insurance rates, even though older drivers actually file fewer claims than younger drivers; and
• termination of included travel insurance by banks upon reaching a cutoff age, ranging anywhere from 65 to 80.
Rage against age
It seems to me there’s no reason we should automatically expect our sense of adventure—and our ability to engage in it—to unravel as the years pass. After all, Louis Self of Arizona is an accomplished kiteboarder at age 73, and Missourian Dr. Robert J. Wheeler climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in northeastern Tanzania when he was 85 years old.
If Nepal’s proposed regulation is enacted, it would be surprising news for people around the world, such as Japan’s Yuichiro Miura. He summited Mount Everest—the oldest person to date to do so—at age 80.
Do you think upper age limits on adventure trips are unduly discriminatory? Or are such restrictions needed now that older travelers are taking on more active adventures?
Here’s to your adventures, in whatever corner of the world you find them,
Latest posts by Candice Gaukel Andrews (see all)
- 10 Reasons Why a Dose of Fear Is Good for You - December 13, 2017
- Extinction Tourism: Seeing Wild Animals Before They’re Gone - November 8, 2017
- The Travel Cycle’s Four Stages—Plus One - October 18, 2017